LIFE IN THE APPLE
by Suzie Dundas
|It’s not easy finding an apartment in NYC—by Dave Hamster via Flickr|
After the fiasco I went through to find a safe, affordable apartment in New York City, I was hoping that once I moved into a semi-permanent place, the chaos in my life would end. Unfortunately, I was wrong.
My former sleazy landlord is four months late returning the almost $3,000 that he owes me from the time I rented his mouse-infested Brooklyn apartment. I have (in writing, no less!) five separate emails and texts in which he tells me my money has been sent (though he never addresses the fact that he supposedly had already sent it.)
I also have several emails in which he says he’s “sorry,” “knows he messed up,” and “will I just work with him, since money is tight?” The only semi-fun thing about this situation is that this failure of a landlord will occasionally call me with some excuse, and I get a chance to say something along the lines of “I don’t care, and don’t waste my time unless you have my money.” This makes me feel pretty badass, and I was especially pleased when, after overhearing my end of the conversation, a random passerby said I sounded like a “female Ari Gold.” This is a compliment, in my book at least.
|Ari Gold? That’s definitely okay by me.–by achimh via Flickr|
However, after months of waiting to no avail, I finally pulled the trigger and sued my ex-landlord and his management company. This involves a trip to NYC small claims court, which is located in Chinatown and has a line of people waiting to get in about an hour long. This is the “public” entrance, and it’s for anyone coming into the building who isn’t an employee – which includes those filing suit, like myself, those showing up for their court dates, and those people who may likely stab you for your iPhone.
Unbelievably, once you’re actually in the building, it’s more entertaining than terrible. At first, I was directed to a small room with a computer circa 1980 and wood paneling to match, where I was told I could quickly check “if small claims court was appropriate for my situation.” With only one person ahead of me, I figured it was worth double checking before filing suit. But, the woman in front of me had clearly already dedicated her whole day to hanging out at the courthouse to plead her case: her neighbor has (she thinks!) a dog, and she lives in a no-pet building.
|Some NYC apartments do not allow pets–by Clatie K via Flickr|
This woman was outraged that the police hadn’t responded to her calls, and “knew” that her neighbor was lying when she insisted she was sans dog. Her landlord was apparently siding with the suspected dog-hoarder, which was causing her “massive stress and emotional trauma.” I gave the woman working the counter an I-feel-your-pain eyeroll, and decided to head straight up to the small claims filing room and skip the drama.
|Who doesn’t like dogs anyway?—by korofotomorgana via Flickr|
This small court filing, actually, was a breeze. There was no one in line ahead of me, and the man working there seemed downright shocked that I had the material I actually needed to file suit – complicated information like my name, and the name of company I want to sue. It turns out it’s a rather easy process, so much so that they even gave me a court date on the spot. I plan to schedule drinks after my impending victory, considering I have several admissions of guilt and wrongdoing in writing from the former landlord.
Unfortunately, it costs $20 to file suit, and they don’t take debit cards – I should have suspected that since I couldn’t file my claim online. So, I actually had to run out of the courtroom, find an ATM, pull out $20, and wait in line again to get back into the building. But that aside, it wasn’t so bad. I’m looking forward to my court date, and planning on watching plenty of Law & Order reruns (I’m pretty sure there’s a whole cable channel that plays it 24/7) to prep.
|Law & Order will give me a few pointers before my court date. I feel a victory. –LOCInumber1fan via Flickr|
It’s nice to know that I have the potential to recover my money eventually, or at least have my frustrations validated in a courtroom. Who knows if I’ll ever actually see my money, since the court can’t actually enforce the ruling, but at least I’ll feel like I’m doing something.
And, if I have to hire an NYC bounty hunter next, I’m sure it will at least make for another intriguing post in the saga that is my life in New York.